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My Favorite Herb Garden Tea

I often walk my herb garden with a colander.  It’s fun to gather sprigs of fresh herbs for my teapot.  Sometimes I harvest a bit of thyme and mint to give me energy for the day ahead.  Other times I reach for  chamomile, lemon balm, and  a bit of mint to bring calm.  My body seems to know which herbs need to be in my teapot.

One of my favorite discoveries for making a delicious pot of herbal tea is the following is a blend of herbs:  Lemon verbena (2 tbsp), Spearmint (3 tbsp), and rosemary (1 tsp).  I often use the dried herbs stored in my herb closet.  However, the fresh herbs are wonderful too.   Sipping a cup of this garden brew lifts my spirits and simply brings more sunshine into my day.  In addition to the Feel Good Feelings, there are other wonderful benefits to be gained from these herbs.

Lemon verbena reduces inflammation and joint pain.  It soothes respiratory problems and is one of the best herbal antioxidants.  In addition, it is known to help folks lose weight because there is less interest in the munchies.

Spearmint relives stress and improves digestion.  Like lemon verbena, it promotes respiratory health.  Spearmint is also good for circulation.

Rosemary is a wonderful tonic for the brain.  It boosts memory and brings clarity to any  type of mental work.  Rosemary increases energy and builds immunity.

When all three of these herbs are combined, the benefits are amazing.  Recently my sixteen year old granddaughter, Kenzie, came by to do some herb crafting with me.  That afternoon we used dried herbs to make dream pillows and a large bowl of the herb garden tea.  Kenzie filled three brown bags with the tea, two for her friends and one for herself.  The next day she texted me to let me know how much she enjoyed the tea.

“It makes me happy,” she said.  “I never knew that herbal tea could make you feel so good.”

I hope you’ll give this recipe a try.  Do you have an herbal tea recipe to share?


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Six more Ways to use Lavender Essential Oil

Recently I met a woman who carries a small bottle of lavender essential oil where ever she goes.  She says it is like having your own personal first aid kit on hand. Knowing all the wonderful attributes of this healing oil, I am thinking I should do the same thing.  Though I have used lavender essential oil for many years, I still continue to learn new uses for this amazing oil.  So without further adieu,  here are six more wonderful ways to use lavender EO that were not mentioned in previous posts:

1. Calming
Remove the lid from a bottle of lavender EO whenever you feel stressed or anxious. Then place the open bottle under your nose and inhale deeply.  Ahhh… Soon the world is a friendlier place.  It is also a great idea to rub 2-3 drops on the feet, temples, wrists, or most anywhere.  Using lavender on your temples may ease a tension headache.

2. Bee sting/ insect or spider bite
Put 1-2 drops of lavender EO on a bee sting or ant bite to relieve itching or swelling.  Years ago I was bitten by a black widow spider.  My entire leg was red and swollen. Using a cotton ball, I put lavender EO on the bite and on my entire leg.  Both the pain and the swelling subsided almost immediately.

3. Sleep aid

Just before climbing to bed, put a drop of lavender EO in the palm of your hand.  Rub your hands together and then lightly smooth the top of your pillow with this fragrant scent.  I have used this at home and when traveling.

4.  Minor burns

Lavender EO, just two to three drops, is a wonderful way to relieve the redness, swelling, and pain of a burn.  I like to keep a little bottle in the kitchen cabinet.  It seems that most burns happen when I have my apron on.

5.  Cuts

Put lavender oil on a cut to stop bleeding and kill bacteria.

6.  Nausea

Place a drop of lavender EO behind the ears or around the navel to treat nausea or motion sickness.


Does anyone have some other ways you use this oil?   I am always on the lookout for more ideas.     Kathy


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A Lavender Bath with Epsom Salt

Did you know that lavender is derived from the Latin word, lavare, which means to wash? I enjoyed learning this because I often put several drops of lavender essential oil in the bath water. Relaxing in a lavender bath washes away the “residue” of a busy day. It calms my overstimulated mind and eases me into a peaceful night of rest.

Recently my 14 year old granddaughter spent time with me while her parents were out of town. She plays volleyball and often has trouble winding down after a competitive round of games. It turns out that a lavender bath is a great way to for her to relax and get some zzz’s.

To make a lavender bath, simply add 5-6 drops of lavender essential oil to warm water. The water should be warm, not piping hot, if you are planning to slip into bed afterwards. Hot water can be stimulating and may keep you awake. This I know first hand.

I also like to add some epsom salt. Epsom salt is different from traditional salts in that it is a naturally occurring pure mineral compound of magnesium and sulfate. These minerals have  powerful health benefits that can enhance the detoxification ability of the body. If I have super sore muscles from a workout in the garden or an intense yoga class, I add 2 cups of epsom salt to the bath water. I ususally do this two to three times a week.  If it is a normal day, I add one cup. Because of it is soothing to skin and relaxes muscles, lavender essential oil and epsom salt is a winning combination for a good night of deep healing sleep.

This is a ritual I plan to keep forever.  Sometimes I use other essential oils or herbs depending on my mood or the kind of day I’m going to have.  However, lavender and epsom salt are old standbys that come through for me again and again.

Does anyone use lavender and/or epsom salt in your bath?                  Happy bathing,   Kathy

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Lavender Essential Oil One of Nature’s Gifts

Lavender was the first herb I planted in my garden. It was love at first smell. When I discovered there were over 40 species and as many as 400 varieties, I began visiting public gardens and nurseries to see and smell the aroma of different species. I planted several of them in the school garden. Though my students and I enjoyed getting to know some of the French and Spanish lavenders, the sweet floral scent of English lavender was our favorite.

I first began using lavender essential oil to make lye based soap. To me, Lavender essential oil is the perfect fragrance for scenting homemade soap. The oil, sometime known as the ‘life force’ of the plant, is steam distilled from the buds of the lavender plant.  Because I love lavender scented soap, I made a lavender spritzer to mist my face first thing in the morning.  What a lovely way to ease into a busy morning.  So easy to prepare!

Lavender Spritzer Facial Spray

4 oz spritzer bottle

3.5 oz distilled water

3 tsp witch hazel

5-6 drops lavender essential oil


Note:  To use this spritzer as a room freshener, add more drops of lavender  (about 10 -12 drops or to your preference).  Lavender EO is anti bacterial and anti viral so it is a great spray to use when someone in your family has been ill.  The witch hazel helps the oil and water stay blended.  If you want to omit the witch hazel, simply shake the bottle well before using.

One day I brought a bottle of lavender spritzer to my classroom.  Since my students loved the lavender growing in our garden, I thought maybe they’d enjoy having lavender water spritzed in the classroom.  Did they ever!  I started misting the classroom just before the students entered after recess.  The soft floral scent helped everyone, including me, calmly focus on lessons and the assignments which followed.   The wonderful fragrance that wafted across our classroom lifted  spirits.  In a matter of minutes, our mood became more positive and cheerful.  On those rare occasions when I forgot the spray,  students were quick to remind me.

It has been said that lavender essential oil is among the gentlest but also the most powerful of all the essential oils. In my experience that is true.  There are so many ways to use this amazing oil.  I will share more of these in my next post.  Meanwhile, why not make a bottle of lavender spritzer for yourself.  Lavender essential oil is available at health food stores and some pharmacies.  You will also find it on this website in the online store.

A word of caution: Remember to keep oils out of reach of children.  Most oils should not be applied directly onto the skin.  Never take them internally.  Discontinue use of the oil if you suffer an allergic reaction, and seek medical advice.





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Rosemary Gingerbread Cookies

Rosemary is a healing herb that is also an amazing culinary herb. It is often used to flavor meat, poultry, and vegetables.  I like to pick a few sprigs of rosemary from my backyard shrub and lay the individual needles on pork chops or chicken thighs before putting them on the grill.  Freshly minced rosemary is oh so tasty sprinkled on salads, rice, and baked potatoes.  Have you ever used rosemary to prepare cakes, cookies, jelly, and even lemonade.  Delish!  There are many recipes to be found on the internet.

One of my favorite recipes is for rosemary gingerbread cookies. The ginger and molasses in this recipe seem to come alive when rosemary is added.  I like to make these spicy cookies in fall and throughout the winter when the days are cool and crisp.  The herb garden students love these cookies and I bake a batch for them every year.

To make these cookies, you will need a box of gingerbread mix from the grocery store, and dried rosemary that is made into a powder. Simply follow the directions on the back of the box for making cookies and add one teaspoon of powdered rosemary.

Rosemary powder can also be added to your favorite molasses cookie recipe. These cookies are tastiest when they are still a bit soft to the touch.

Rosemary powder is easy is easy to prepare. Put dried rosemary needles in a spice grinder or coffee grinder. The coffee grinder must be used be used only for herbs. Grind the needles until they are completely powdered. Remember, one teaspoon rounded teaspoon is all you need.

I should mention that rosemary gingerbread is also a treat.  Simply follow the directions on the box for the gingerbread and add one heaping teaspoon of the powdered rosemary.  A dollop of whipped cream topped with some finely grated lemon rind is divine.  Not everyone is a fan of gingerbread and I don’t understand why.  Fortunately most of my family loves this recipe.

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A Cup of Rosemary Tea

Years ago I lived on a 20 acre citrus farm in central California.  An acre of this land was devoted to growing herbs. I planted parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme along with lavender, lemon balm, aloe, and so many others. Though our citrus was sold to grocery stores up and down the west coast, we also sold our fruit at Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market on Saturdays. In addition to the citrus, I sold freshly harvested bundles of herbs to our customers. I would collect cutting of the herbs late Friday afternoon to ensure their freshness for market. Often I worked until midnight fashioning the herbs into eye-catching bouquets that could be used in the kitchen, the bath, or most anywhere. I loved seeing the happy expressions on people’s faces as they selected a bouquet to take home.

Of all the herbs I harvested for market, the scent of rosemary was the one that kept my spirits up, giving me energy to work late into the night. With so much to do, a rosemary bath was out of the question. But a cup of rosemary tea, now that would work. As I sipped this piney, mint-like brew on Friday evenings, it was easier to stay on my feet and move through the work at hand.  I no longer sell citrus and herbs at farmer’s market, but I continue to make a cup of rosemary tea whenever energy and concentration are needed.  There are many ways to brew a cup of rosemary tea.  Below is the simple process I use.

Rosemary  Tea

You will need:   2 small rosemary sprigs and 1 cup boiling water

Put rosemary sprigs (2-3 inches) into your mug.  Pour water over the rosemary and steep 10 minutes in a covered container.  Remove rosemary.  Sweeten with honey if you wish.  I often add a bay, sage, or mint leaf to my cup.  A sprig of thyme also complements rosemary.  If using dried rosemary, use 2 teaspoon and steep as before.  Strain the tea before drinking

 Now years later I continue to notice how my body loves rosemary tea.  Not only does the tea improve circulation in my legs, it also seems to strengthen my ability to think and remember.  I cannot resist making a teapot of rosemary tea when I have some serious paperwork or writing to do.  No more brain fog for me!  In my research on rosemary, I have learned that it is a source of vitamin A, B6, calcium, iron, and manganese.  It also contains antioxidants and flavonoids which make it a good way to address the aging process.  The literature I have read lists many other possible benefits that can be derived from drinking rosemary tea.  I look forward to learning more about all this herb has to offer us.  Meanwhile, I shall continue to tip my mug of rosemary tea.

Has anyone else been drinking rosemary tea?   I’d love to know about your experience with this amazing tea.

Note:  Before drinking rosemary tea, consult your physician if you are pregnant, on heart medications, diabetic, or have a gastrointestinal illness.  This blog entry is not intended as a medical reference, but as a source of information.  Before trying any herbal remedies, the reader is advised to sample a small quantity first to establish whether there is any adverse or allergic reaction.



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Rosemary for your Bath

Years ago mydscn1542 daughter Lindsay and I took a weekend trip to Cambria, California, a small seaside tourist community. We were both finishing a week of school. She was in third grade and I was a fourth grade teacher.  Friday evening we checked into our motel located across the road from Moonstone Beach. The next morning Lindsay hopped out of bed,  (7 am to be exact) and insisted we begin our day.  As for me, I longed for a little more down time.  Having just completed a week of teaching and parent teacher conferences, this body wanted to ease into the day.

My cunning daughter remembered the rosemary growing alongside the sidewalk, just outside our motel room.  Without hesitation, she harvested a handful and tossed it into a bath of warm water.  Then she ushered me to the tub.  I knew what she was up to but I had to admire her effort.  That early morning rosemary bath worked wonders.  Soon I was up and moving.  In no time we were walking the beach, collecting a colorful little moonstones, and visiting our favorite shops.  So much energy!  All the stress and exhaustion from the work week must have been washed away in that rosemary bath.

If you are looking for energy, soaking in a rosemary infused bath might be just what your body needs.  The directions are simple.  If you do not have a rosemary bush, now is the time to purchase one at your local nursery.

Rosemary Bathdscn1547-2

  1.  Cut 2-3 long rosemary stems.
  2.  Next, cut each stem into small pieces, about 3 inches in length.
  3.  Lay the pieces on a 10 inch square of cheese cloth, muslin, or other porous cloth.  Even an old t-shirt works well.
  4.  Lift each corner to form a bundle.  Secure with a rubber band and/or twine.
  5.  Hold the bundle under the stream of warm running water and then let it float about.

I like to give the rosemary bundle a good squeeze while I’m soaking.  This helps rosemary release her healing oils into the water.  Many books and journals note that this herb improves circulation.  Good blood flow means plenty of oxygen and nutrient rich blood flowing throughout the body.  This is one of the best herbal baths for relieving muscle aches and pains.  It also stimulates the nervous system, easing tension and mild anxiety.  Many folks say bathing in rosemary improves their overall sense of well-being.  I couldn’t agree more.

Just one word of caution, do not take a rosemary bath before going to bed.

If you have taken a rosemary bath, let me know what you think.   Thanks, kathy



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Meet Rosemary

rosemary During the holiday season many folks buy a rosemary Christmas tree from a local nursery or even the grocery store. I have been one of those people. After the holidays I planted the tree in my school herb garden and now it is a thriving shrub. Year round my students and I harvest the stems to use in crafts and an assortment of recipes.

The name rosemary means dew of the sea. Rosemary is certainly a fitting name because it has a great love for sunshine and moist salty air. The short needle-like leaves remind me of pine needles. I often see them growing in clusters along California beaches.

Rosemary is a symbol of remembrance, friendship, and love. If you grow a rosemary bush in your yard, it is said you will never be short of friends. Brides once wore wreaths woven with sprigs of rosemary. Sometimes they added rosemary to their bridal bouquet. During funerals, mourners tossed fresh rosemary stems into the grave. The stems were a sign that the life of the loved one would be remembered.

Long ago Greek and roman students placed stems of rosemary behind their ears to improve their memory. During a difficult test they would wear a rosemary wreath on their heads. Today many people still believe that rosemary’s scent improves our ability to think and remember. During the years I taught 4th grade at Crestwood Elementary, students often harvested a sprig from the garden to smell while tackling a challenging math or history test.They assured me it helped and I have no doubt that it did.  Fourth and fifth graders in Crestwood’s Herb Garden Club enjoy making rosemary wreaths to wear.  They also love eating rosemary gingerbread cookies.

What do you do with rosemary?   I am always looking for new ways to use this amazing herb.

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What is a Tea Bowl?

A Tea Bowl is a tasty potpourri of spices and herbs. Last November I made my first bowl. It’s a blend of dried bay leaves, chunks of cinnamon, cloves, and dried orange slices. Sometimes I add small cuttings of rosemary fresh from the garden.  The amazing fragrance warms my kitchen and ushers in the spirit of the holidays.  So, why do I call it a tea bowl?

First thing in the morning I brew a cup of tea and then the fun begins! What should I add to the tea?   Maybe a bay leaf and orange slice? Perhaps a chunk of cinnamon with one clove and an orange slice. Occasionally I put everything in.  The choice is only mine.  On any given morning I craft this cup of tea to suit myself.  You may wonder if all these herbs and spices get in the way of sipping the tea.  For me the answer is no.  The cinnamon and clove sink to the bottom while the orange slice and bay leaf usually float near the top.  I love watching and tasting the goodies from the tea bowl infuse the cup of tea.  It seems as if each sip is sweeter and more flavorful than the last.

There may also be some health benefits when using the tea bowl.dscn1464

Bay leaves (the variety known as sweet bay laurel)  are known for their sweet and savory goodness.  A cup of bay tea is good for digestion and soothing to the stomach.  Some folks say that sweet bay laurel tea is a mild sedative and may be useful in treating headaches.  Note: bay leaves should never be eaten. Be certain  you are using only the sweet bay leaf,  Laurus nobilis.

Cinnamon symbolizes the warmth of home and hearth.  The tea warms the body and can improve circulation to the fingers and toes.  Many of the articles written about cinnamon suggest that it may also  help balance blood sugar.

Dried orange slices are all about health and happiness.  They are an excellent sourdscn1468ce of vitamins A, B, C, and calcium.  They may be good for your vision and improve skin texture and color.

Cloves are one of the world’s most aromatic spices.  They improve digestion and like cinnamon, they are good for circulation.  Useful as an expectorant when suffering from a cold or the flu.

Rosemary is a stimulating herb that brings energy to your body.  The tea freshens and awakens the mind.  It can also alleviate mental and physical fatigue.

Does anyone else add some of the herbs or spices to your tea cup?   Please tell us about your ways with tea.   Kathy

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What is a Sniffy?

dscn1413A Sniffy is an aromatic bundle of herbs. Hold a sniffy in your hand and squeeze this herbal treasure to release a wonderful aroma. Sniffies come in many scents. They can be created from a single herb such as lavender or a combination of herbs.

Years ago my 4th grade class and I made sniffies for the first time.  The English lavender plants growing in our garden were ready to be harvested.  We cut at least sixty tall stems.  The scent from the deep purple buds was amazing.  After securing the stems in bunches of fifteen, they were hung face down, in our warm classroom.  Within a week the buds were dry and ready to be used.

Everyone wanted to enjdscn1160oy the harvest so students decided to make mini lavender sachets.  We named them sniffies and they were an instant hit.  Students kept them in their desk to use whenever they needed some of lavender’s calm, soothing aromatherapy.  Many said it helped them stay focused on their school work.  Other teachers began to make sniffies with their students and it became a phenomenon.  Nowadays people of all ages enjoy squeezing and sniffing these little sachets.  During the holidays ,they become ornaments as my granddaughters create them with Christmas fabric to hang on the tree.

The mint sniffy is a lively bundle of peppermint, spearmint, and rosemary with a hint of cinnamon. This festive blend reminds us to pay attention and enjoy life

The rose petal sniffy is blend of roses, cloves, cinnamon, marjoram, and lavender.  Peaceful, uplifting, this scent is sure to soften the edges of your day.

In the spring,  lemon sniffies are made with lemon verbena, lavender, calendula, rose petals, cinnamon, and cloves.  When I smell this sachet, the words that come to mind are sunshine and new beginnings.

Sniffies are easy to make. You will need cotton fabric, an herb or herb blend. a small rubber band, and a piece of raffia or ribbon.

Cut the cotton fabric into an 8 inch circle. Fill the center with 1/3 cup of the herb you have chosen. Lift the edges of the fabric to form a bundle. Secure with a small rubber band followed by a piece of raffia or ribbon.  (Sniffies can also be made in a larger size by cutting 10 inch circles and filling them with 1/2 cup of the selected herb or herbs)

Sniffy kits are available in the Timeless Herbal Traditions online store.  Check them out.  It is fun to make your own

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